Shareholder governments of regional airline LIAT have made the first down-payment for six new fifty-seater aircraft, according to Prime Minister of St. Vincent, Dr. Ralph Gonsalves.

The purchase of the aircraft is part of a fleet expansion program initiated by the airline and speaking at the commissioning of a container handling unit in St. Vincent, Gonsalves said $3.8-million dollars have already been paid.

He said payments will continue in 2013 and 2014.

The prime minister said three, of the six aircraft are expected to be delivered in 2013.

Gonsalves also revealed that the shareholders are now considering whether to purchase 70-seater aircraft as part of the expansion program.

For some time now, the majority shareholders of LIAT have been thinking of expanding the airline’s aging fleet and in July this year, at a meeting in Barbados, they decided which aircraft type will be used.

Despite the decision and Gonsalves’ announcement, the type and manufacturer of the new aircraft have not been disclosed.

The majority shareholders of LIAT are the governments of St. Vincent, Barbados and Antigua.

Recently Dominica’s Prime Minister, Roosevelt Skerrit, announced that the island will be investing in LIAT with an $8-million cash injection.